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BlueAnt Q3 review: Hands-free features galore, call quality not so hot

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MSRP: $99.00

The Good Small and light, the BlueAnt Q3 is compact and comfortable. The headset also boasts many premium features such as built-in voice commands and a companion mobile app.

The Bad Though equipped with dual microphones, the BlueAnt Q3’s noise canceling is weak. The Q3’s SMS text-to-speech feature also proved inconsistent.

The Bottom Line The BlueAnt Q3 packs impressive hands-free calling features, but lackluster call quality makes it hard to recommend.

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6.7 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 8
  • Performance 5

Review Sections

The $99 BlueAnt Q3 Bluetooth headset is the follow up to BlueAnt's popular Q2 model. It boasts a host of premium features for hands-free calling, including an array of built-in voice commands, integration with Apple Siri and Google Voice Actions, along with dual microphones for clearer conversations. The headset is also compact and lightweight, plus it can pair with two devices at once such as phones, tablets, or PCs. That said, the Q3 can't match the noise cancellation prowess or greater battery life of the better designed, though larger, Plantronics Voyager Legend.

Like the Q2, the BlueAnt Q3 is relatively small and light, and it sports a curved shape that's thin and slender. The front of the headset has a meshed surface designed to guard against wind noise, along with a command button and an indicator light. On the side closest to your ear sits a minuscule volume rocker that I found very hard to manipulate with my big fingers, plus a Micro-USB port for charging. That port is something I like to see, as Micro-USB cables are much more convenient and widespread than proprietary connectors.

The BlueAnt Q3's compact size fits easily in the hand. Sarah Tew/CNET

Placed on the Q3's inside edge is the headset's tiny power switch, which is a little difficult to flip unless you remove the device from your ear. To ensure good call quality, the headset features two microphones -- one at the tip and one on the front.

Also included in the box are four rubbery eartips, two with stabilizers and two without (one set small and one set large). You can also attach an earloop to the Q3 for more stability. In my experience I found the Q3 a little tricky to insert into my ear, but once properly angled and attached the device held fast. The soft eartips are also easy to slip onto the headset and create a tight acoustic seal.

On the inside edge of the BlueAnt Q3 sits its power switch. Sarah Tew/CNET

Features and performance
The BlueAnt Q3 comes brimming with lots of bells and whistles to make hands-free calling easier. Like many high-end Bluetooth headsets, the Q3 features numerous voice commands built right in. For example, when you press the command button, the gadget will ask you to "Say a command." If you then ask, "What can I say?" the Q3 will list all possible options. These include "Check battery" for current power level, "Pair" to kick the device into pairing mode, and "Am I connected" will confirm your link status and begin the Bluetooth connection process if necessary.

Additionally, pressing the command button once will accept incoming calls while hitting it twice rejects it. If you're already chatting with someone and receive an incoming call, pressing the button ends the current line and answers the new call. Double clicking the key under the same circumstances performs the opposite, rejecting the new call while preserving the ongoing one. Another neat trick is the option to hold one call while answering another, then merging the two if you choose. Keep in mind though, that your wireless network must support call conferencing for this feature to succeed.

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